NEW JERSEY - An anticlimactic message on New Jersey public schools was delivered by Governor Murphy on Monday, May 4th, at12PM. Schools will stay shut and remote learning will continue.

While this is not much of a surprise, he did hold out hope and waited until middle of May. He made the call earlier.

" I had hoped that we could get back to a sense of normal by allowing our children to return to the school they love - with their friends and classmates -  the reality is that we cannot safely reopen our schools to provide students, families, our faculty and staff the confidence needed." said the governor.

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"I have noted before -  we are working with the principal that public health creates economic health or in this case public health creates educational health. At this time the hurdles...could not be overcome -  could not guarantee an environment that would not only be safe but fully capable of meeting the educational needs of students in a setting built for social distancing." said the governor.

The rite of passage for graduating from high school seniors is a particular shock to young lives. Governor Murphy spoke this as well:

"I know that are graduating seniors were looking forward to walking across the stage to receive their diplomas in front of their families and friends - I still want to see them have those opportunities, and we will also work with districts for safe and creative ways class of 2020 proper sendoff to their bright futures. I want to thank every parent or grandparent or guardian who is been juggling everything else in their life on top of being their child's at home educator. I know it hasn't been easy. I think our educators, staff and administrators are the best in the United States of America."

Many educational organizations had requested closure or are planning for it regardless.

‘Reopening’ Education brings specific requirements  that are much different from ‘reopening’ a store. Concerns expressed by educational professionals include:

Bussing – Social distancing is impossible on current bussing. More busses may be needed and at what cost? Also, many outside contractors have laid off their bus drivers. How easy would it be to get them back?

Many parents may simply refuse to go back this early. This would arguably force the in-school and remote option to be determined quickly.
 

Wearing masks – according to area superintendents, wearing masks is not workable. Sourcing masks, controlling use and cleanup as well as special health circumstances of children make it very difficult in terms of compliance. A school with 5000 students may need 25,000 masks a week.

Social distancing is itself an issue. Classrooms would need to be measured, staffing and costs would need to be balanced along with how the school sessions are determined. If the class size is too small, it won't work without a major retooling of the calendar.

A letter was sent recently to the Governor from area superintendents. In it, they ask for the obvious: Close the schools.

Spring sports were cancelled as well. A statement was released by NJSIAA:

 “Following today’s announcement by Governor Murphy, the NJSIAA has officially canceled New Jersey’s 2020 high school spring sports season.  This decision was not made lightly and we are disappointed for the thousands of New Jersey student-athletes who will be unable to compete this spring. While we remained hopeful to the end, and left open every possibility, competition simply is not feasible given the circumstances.

 

“The last few weeks have been heartbreaking on many levels, from the tragic loss of life, to thousands battling the virus, to millions who have suffered emotional and economic loss.  It’s been a harrowing time for everyone, and we know our student-athletes are extremely disappointed. That said, these unfortunate circumstances may have put an intriguing challenge in the path of our young people. As New Jersey’s own Vince Lombardi once said, “It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up. “  We’re confident all our kids will get back up and stand tall.

 

“The NJSIAA will continue developing plans for the potential restarting of scholastic sports during the fall season. Additional information related both to the summer recess and fall will be shared at a later date.”

The Governor's Press Conference is here: